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"Don't just turn on the spigot for big city Democrats," Cook County Clerk David Orr urges the new administration (Chicago Reporter, January). "Chicago has some wonderful community groups who actually know how to do things. Federal dollars need to be tied into these creative ideas."

Hey, I bought one for my gas guzzler! Who says I'm not an environmentalist? According to the Great Lakes Reporter (November/December), Indiana is the first Great Lakes state to institute special environmental "vanity" license plates. The $25 fee goes toward state land purchases.

"Underappropriated pension contributions are like unpaid credit card bills," state comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch told a congressional committee in 1991. "The liability does not go away just because you choose not to pay the bill when it is due. You still owe the unpaid balance, plus interest." Not that anyone was listening--her current Comptroller's Monthly Fiscal Report (December/January) documents that Illinois public-employee pension funds contain less than 57 cents for every dollar they should, a ratio of assets to liabilities lower than in any other state except Michigan, Massachusetts, and Louisiana.

Percentage of Chicago home buyers who were single in 1990: 8.9. In 1991: 14.1. In 1992: 19.3. This according to a recent survey by Chicago Title and Trust.

Either the premonition wasn't quite right, or it hasn't happened yet. From a report of a commuter-rail hearing in Chesterton, Indiana, January 14, four days before the South Shore crash: "One person pointed out that the area from Gary to Michigan City was using signal technology that was 50 years old and someday there would be a serious accident."

"This year, according to black faculty at several schools, [campus] programs [observing Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday] could have been canceled for lack of interest," writes Salim Muwakkil in In These Times (January 25). "I became aware of this new anti-King attitude while helping to plan a special January 18 celebration for a Chicago-area college. A group of African-American students asked me to delete King's name from the program schedule."

"The CHA is emptying out at a rate of about 500 apartments per year," Ed Zotti reminds us in Chicago Enterprise (January/February). "At its peak in the 1970s, the CHA housed 30,000 families in the buildings it owned; today, that number has fallen to fewer than 24,000, a decline of 21 percent. Nearly 7,000 apartments are vacant, more than 4,300 of them in family high-rise buildings. At least six major projects have vacancy rates of 20 percent or more; Henry Horner Homes on the West Side is 49 percent vacant. Multiple floors in many high-rises throughout the city are empty. Most of the vacant units are uninhabitable, having been stripped by vandals and scavengers."

Progress in everything except patronage. "In 1992, Village [of Oak Park] refuse crews picked up and disposed of 11,000 fewer tons of solid waste than they did in 1987" (OP FYI January/February).

Public enterprise rules. The four largest employers in Illinois, in order, are the state government, the federal government, the Chicago Board of Education, and the city of Chicago. The two largest private employers (Sears and Jewel) combined employ fewer people than the state (Illinois Issues, January).

Hello, I'm having several aldermen over for a party--what titles would you suggest? From Kroch's and Brentano's list of services: "Book catering to special events."

Gee, at this rate the 90s could be more fun than the 60s! Working Assets bills itself as the only phone company offering its customers monthly "free speech" days when they can call important government and corporate leaders at no charge: "Recently, Working Assets gave its customers the direct line for Jack Smith, the new CEO of General Motors. Thousands of people called Mr. Smith's office and urged him to build more fuel-efficient cars. Mr. Smith's secretary became quite irate and asked Working Assets to stop the barrage. 'Who are you, anyway?' she wanted to know, 'some public interest advocacy group?' 'No, ma'am,' Working Assets' president, Peter Barnes, replied. 'We're a phone company.'"

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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